When I left the country to move to the ‘big smoke’ to attend university, I didn’t know that I would change so much.
It’s funny how time and experiences change us into people we would have hardly recognised a few years ago.
We are braver, stronger and fiercer than we ever thought we could be, but for some of us, myself included, our connections to family, culture and country slowly get pushed to one side. They are no longer our whole world, but one part of ourselves; the new person we have become has new dreams and ambitions now, too.
It’s not that we don’t treasure these things—I know I love my family and my culture. I hate seeing my fellow brothers and sisters suffering and I will do everything in my power to create opportunities for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: but is this enough?
So often I have felt conflicted about doing something for myself versus doing something for my community—and I am sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. As it stands, I just want to get through uni and have a fulfilling job at the end of it. But I also know there is another part of me that would love to move home and live the simple life. It is almost as if my identities are at war. Can people even have more than one identity?
I remember one of my aunties making a comment about university and how it “makes you think white.” When I first heard this, I rolled my eyes and thought to myself: “How can you know? You never went to one.” However, the more I think about it, the more I think she has a point.
Studying at university has changed the way I think, the way I speak… It has changed my thought processes and what things I choose to give priority to. It has carved my interests and paved a path for my ambitions.
But in the whirl of all this, parts of me are missing out. What is nurturing my cultural identity? Have I lost the person I used to be, or have they morphed into this new version of myself?
These are complex questions and I am sure I am not alone in struggling with identity issues. All I know is that we can only strive to be the truest versions of ourselves, to take pride in ourselves and to remain strong in our identity.